Filmmaker William Strobeck is best known for his captivating skate videos for Supreme. Following the success of cherry from 2014, which gave him global recognition, Strobeck premiered his first full-length feature with Supreme’s BLESSED late last year.
Now with his sights set beyond the world of skateboarding, Strobeck recently sat down with 032c for his most personal interview to date. The self-taught filmmaker dove into his upbringing, getting into skateboarding and filming, and of course, working with Supreme. He also detailed what it’s like collaborating with Supreme and adidas skater Tyshawn Jones, how he wants to transition outside of skate films, and what Supreme’s future looks like.
Below we’ve highlighted a few key excerpts from Strobeck’s new interview with 032c, which you can then read in full here.
On making skate videos for a living and filming constantly:
“Summer, spring, fall, I’m out all day. By the time I get home, I’m exhausted.”
“…It’s fun though. It keeps me young. If I had an office job, I’d probably feel more mature, but I’d feel like I was missing out.”
On his first time working with Supreme and adidas skater Tyshawn Jones:
“He was super confident out of the gate. Usually, when I meet kids for the first time they’ll be quiet because I’m older. He was already just tripping, and pushing his friends, and lying to his friends like, ‘I’m with my mom right now.’ Just goofy kid shit. But I knew there was something special about him. I knew it that day.”
On being raised by his grandmother and aunt and uncle:
“I grew up with my mother and grandmother – an only child. My mother was sick. She’s still sick – she’s schizophrenic. She was really sick when I was young, though, probably for my first three years she would be talking to herself and laughing. It was just kind of fucked up. I knew there was nothing I could do. My grandmother was the saving grace. She was normal and she worked a job. My mother has always felt like my sister. She’s never had to do anything.”
“She [his mother] had to go to a psychiatric institution. She was hearing voices. So I moved in with my aunt and uncle further upstate. They were a young married couple – like 18 or 19, just kids. In my head, though, they were so adult. I finally had a mother figure and a father figure. In reality they were reckless, getting drunk and getting in fights. It was super crazy. I remember just craving, wanting to be with my mother.”
On when he started skateboarding:
“My aunt bought me my first skateboard. There was another kid that had a skateboard so I started rolling with him. It was cool in that time period – like 1989 or 1990 – skateboarding was moving from California to other parts of the world.”
On moving out and relocating to Philadelphia:
“My home life definitely fucked with me and this was my way of dealing with it. When I finally moved out at 17 and moved to Philadelphia it was for a girl I’d met there – and for skateboarding. I went down with 100 bucks or something, which back then could last you a long time. I didn’t know how to get a job because my mother and grandma never made me.”
On getting into filming:
“My cousin and I used to film skits at his house when we were kids. We’d geek out and make fake commercials and shit. I guess that was kind of the start. It was a fun process and kinda led into skateboarding: the act of going out with your friends and filming all day, then going home and watching it, showing them, and getting psyched to do it again. I never thought of it as a job until it became one. Then I felt like the energy switched.”
On filming becoming a job:
“The skate scene in Philadelphia got really big and the skate company Alien Workshop was working on a video with a couple of pro skaters who lived there. I had just started filming with friends and Alien offered to pay me a daily retainer to shoot for them. I was like, ‘Fuck yeah!’ So I quit everything – community college and the pizza place I was working at – and started filming skating. I haven’t had a real job since.”
“I was going on trips to Miami with the whole team, freaking out because I had photos of these guys on my wall and shit. It’s like a kid putting fucking Future and Drake on their wall and the next thing you know they’re going on tour to film them. They were bigger than Michael Jackson to me.”
On branching out on his own:
“Even though I loved it, Alien had got so big and was becoming corporate. I was working for them less so I decided I wanted to do my own thing, out of boredom I guess. It felt good to have my own platform and my own voice. Once I did that I was like, ‘Oh, I can do this now. This is mine.’”
On how he started working with Supreme:
“My friend Kyle from Supreme asked what I thought about doing a commercial for them, which ended up being buddy. I’d told them the year before that if they ever wanted to do a full-length I’d be down. So I agreed and it was a trial and error kind of thing. And that’s when they first mentioned Tyshawn.”
On his personal aesthetic:
“I’d say, it’s on the fly, personal, and honest. I want the viewer to feel like they are there. I want them to feel like they are a part of our crew and see what it’s like from an insider’s point of view. I want them to walk away and wish they were a part of it. I think detail is what makes my stuff recognizable. I’m sort of blinded by my aesthetic: it’s really just me, so I can’t see what I’m doing. It’s a blur. It’s for others to judge and tell me what they think, really. It’s just coming from my brain.”
On transitioning beyond skate films:
“I would love to, but I think a part of me has a wall up. I know I can make a film. I will do it when the time’s right. Maybe a good start would be something scripted with these kids, but without as much skating. I haven’t done anything scripted. All that shit in the videos is real, which is cool, because it almost seems scripted. I’ve just gotta try it, but I have this fear, like, ‘Oh man, after BLESSED he made that fucking corny thing.’ I hope I wouldn’t make something corny – I would know enough to not put something out. I think there’s room to do something for Supreme that’s scripted and with these kids. Supreme doesn’t need to do a skate thing. I’m just gonna roll with the punches.”
On what Supreme’s future looks like:
“I think they’ll have the power to do so much more. Who knows? Maybe in a few years they’ll be collaborating with Mercedes, like, selling a Supreme car or something. Supreme can be anything now. We’re every genre now. It doesn’t have to be one thing. They can make anything they want and it will be cool. You see their accessories and the stuff they’re doing now. They just do it their way. They make tables and shit. As long as it has the little label on it, it will sell.”
For the entire interview, head on over to 032c.